I want to make an argument that there was never a more versatile form of baked good than the muffin. If made correctly—that is, NOT too dry and crumbly—they are the perfect morning sustenance for those needing a grab-and-go breakfast, can be enjoyed with leisure and a cup of tea in the afternoon, and/or are something to satisfy the sweet tooth at night, all without the guilt of eating a cupcake. And there is something about a bran muffin in particular that accomplishes all of these things with heft and conviction.
To be honest, the bran muffin was mostly shrouded in mystery to me until I started working on this recipe. My husband was always ordering them at bakeries and cafes and I was convinced he did so just because he was a glutton for punishment; most of the times the ones I sampled from his order were horribly dry, but when we got a good one, it was glorious. This is why I was determined to learn how to make them myself.
In my research, I learned that wheat bran is a byproduct of milling wheat to turn it into flour. So whomever first decided not to waste it, and to bake it into a yummy muffin instead, has my admiration. When I bought straight-up wheat bran for the first time, I ate a small spoon of it (which normal people probably don’t ever do) and found it to be nutty in flavor and softer than I expected. Even so, it’s imperative as you are making this recipe to give the wheat bran the time to soften and lots of moist ingredients to balance it out. You do not want a dry bran muffin but you most definitely want these.
Date and Cacao Bran Muffins
(Makes 1 dozen)
- 3/4 cup dates, chopped into small chunks
- 1 1/2 cup wheat bran
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/4 cup flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup cacao nibs
Preheat your oven to 400°F and line a dozen muffin cups.
In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine wheat bran and milk and let stand for 10 minutes to soften. Then add vanilla, chopped dates, oil, and sugar; mix thoroughly and let stand for another 5 minutes.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
Beat eggs into the wet ingredients. Mix in cacao nibs. Then, gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, stirring gently until just combined.
Distribute batter evenly into lined muffin cups and bake for 15–20 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from pan to cool slightly before enjoying!
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